2017 MLB Mock Draft 3.0

Pitchers and Catchers can’t come soon enough. Come to think of it, baseball itself can’t come back soon enough. With all compensation tied free agents signed, the draft order is officially set, and with the college baseball and prep seasons also starting soon or already started, now would be a good time to see how the draft could play out.

Same rules as always, picks are judged based on organizational strengths, trends are considered, and if there is concrete evidence towards GM tendencies, they will be factored in as well.

  1. Minnesota Twins
Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame HS

Occam’s Razor in layman’s terms says that the most obvious solution is the best solution, and whily I’ve been dodging the most obvious solution for the longest time, this particular conflict resolved itself with a 100 mile per hour fastball.

Hunter Greene, regarded in many circles as the top prospect in the draft, tapped triple digits in his last start, and it’s safe to say that barring injury, there’s a chance that there’s more to come. Even though Greene has been regarded as the presumptive first overall pick in many mocks, this all but confirms that he is the player to beat. I like Greene’s delivery as it looks very fluid, but my concern is with him pitching out of the stretch, as it seems to be a bit more erratic and could lead to control problems.

Greene is a prep product, and in my opinion, the Twins would do better with a college player who can contribute immediately, but his talent is hard to ignore. Remarks about his work ethic suggest that Greene, should he continue to show what he has shown, would be a fast riser in Minnesota’s system.

2. Cincinnati Reds:

Photo courtesy of The Tennessean

This year has been regarded as one of the worst in terms of collegiate positional talent. Scouts have said that many position players will be overvalued because of the relative scarcity. Granted, a lot can happen in four months, but if things stood the way they did, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the dearth of prep arms being overlooked for the position players.

Jeren Kendall last year was one of the hottest bats in the NCAA, and by the end of the year, had been in conversation as a potential number 1 pick. One of Vandy’s key contributors in their repeat appearance in the College World Series Final, a loss to Virginia, he’s shown value with outstanding speed and a decent bat. Even though he is small, he has shown to have an impact on the game with his speed and defense.

I see Kendall as a slower, but better hitting Billy Hamilton, although scouts have compared him to Jacoby Ellsbury, something that seems to be common among Nashville collegiate outfielders. It’s possible that should the Reds pull the trigger and sell off more assets including Hamilton, that Kendall steps into his role.

3. San Diego Padres:

Photo courtesy of Matt Czechanski via YouTube

By now, we all know the story about what happened to Jason Groome and the Padres. He was supposed to fall to the 24th pick, where the Padres had a deal for him in place. That fell through when Boston took him with the 12th overall pick. The Padres, who had already taken Stanford righty Cal Quantrill eighth overall, ended up selecting Texas prep shortstop Hudson Potts, then Kent State southpaw Eric Lauer.

While there isn’t a lefty of Groome’s magnitude available, I could see the Padres pulling an Ian Anderson-type move and grabbing D.L. Hall here. Hall is the consensus top lefty in the draft, and a year after pitching at an Atlanta area high school to gain more exposure, he’s back in his hometown of Valdosta. Hall does have the attributes to be a solid starter, his fastball is a nice low to mid 90’s heater with rise, and his curveball when on point is a dangerous pitch.

I’m not big on Hall’s mechanics, particularly that of his delivery, but he’s young enough to have those fixed in relatively short time in the minors. If Hall can be as dominant as he was at Houston County in his final year at Valdosta, him going in the third could be justified.

4. Tampa Bay Rays:

Photo Courtesy of the Orange County Register

I have to think that the Tampa Bay Rays brass are kicking themselves over the fact that they picked Tim Beckham over players like Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, or even Pedro Alvarez. Beckham, to his credit, has been a serviceable reserve, but he’s nowhere near the player that he was envisioned, a nice complement to Evan Longoria. With the Rays picking the highest they have since 2008, it’s possible the Rays could return to this old quandry, especially with one of the best Highly Anticipated Prep Shortstops staring them in the face.

Though Royce Lewis may outgrow the shortstop position, there’s no doubt that he stands to be one of the best prep hitters in this class. Lewis is average to above average in all but speed, where he is solid, but should he develop in the minors, he stands to be a five tool player. He has home run power, and his defense works both in the infield and the outfield, which is where he’s projected to play as a pro.

Lewis may not be what Tim Beckham was supposed to be, but I can imagine if the Rays can find a future five tool player in this year’s draft, they’d take him, no questions asked.

5. Atlanta Braves:

Photo Courtesy of Goheels.com

Even as a fan of the Mets, I have to put aside my hatred for the Braves and admit that what they’ve done over the past two seasons is nothing more than impressive. This includes Sunday’s trade with the Reds where they acquired Brandon Phillips, sent two non-blue-chip prospects in return, and had the Reds eat most of Phillips’ salary. The deal not only gives them someone to hole the fort while Ozzie Albies finishes his development, but adds a mentor for Dansby Swanson.

That being said, in spite of Atlanta’s obsession with adding pitching prospects, I could see them bringing another on board in J.B. Bukauskas. Bukauskas, in my opinion is the top college pitcher mainly because of his experience at UNC, as well as his draft pedigree. He’s been regarded as one of the best fastball pitchers in the draft as well, short of Hunter Greene. Bukauskas does need to work on his mechanics, as scouts do project him with a reliever’s floor. However, with the abundance of Braves pitching, having him as a closer wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Atlanta is a textbook example of what you should do during a rebuild, and hopefully their example will be followed by others who hope to compete for a long time with cost controlled assets.

6. Oakland Athletics:

Photo courtesy of Cardinal Sports Zone

As the old saying goes, “You can’t have enough pitching”. And this is true. Look at the 2016 New York Mets, who lost 3/5 of their rotation and managed to hobble to the playoffs with pitchers from AAA. However, in this year’s draft, the position may be reversed. With less offensive talent readily available, some two way players may be drafted as position players.

I touched upon this last time I mocked Brendan McKay here, but the A’s can do no wrong with this pick. In the case they do not resign Sonny Gray, or trade him, McKay could slot in. He has the velocity to be an effective starter, but wouldn’t be as much of a workhorse as Gray. As a first baseman, McKay looks more well-rounded than Yonder Alonso, though he does need work on his defense. Still, because McKay favors neither pitching nor first base, Oakland has carte blanche to work with should they draft with.

The 2017 NCAA baseball season is coming up, so it will be interesting to see how McKay is deployed. Will we see more of him on the mound or in the field? We’ll find out soon enough.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks:

Photo Courtesy of the Star Telegram

After I released the 2nd version of my mock draft, I received an interesting comment from a reader. The reader mentioned that my first overall pick in the last draft had not been used as much on Team USA as two other players and wondered why I favored him over those two. I explained my reasoning, citing J.B. Bukauskas’s experience as a UNC starter and noted issues with one pitcher’s mechanics and injury concerns and another’s recent transition to the rotation.

That commenter turned out to be Kyle Wright’s grandfather, who applauded me for offering a different perspective and putting less pressure on Wright and the other pitcher. While I am flattered that Kyle’s grandfather took the time to read my mock. I can imagine that Kyle would want to be considered the best college pitcher in the draft. My opinion doesn’t mean that I think less of Kyle, but rather that he’s definitely got promise, but he needs to continue to pitch like he did during his sophomore year to justify being ranked so high. Additionally, Wright’s the most likely starter of the Team USA trio thanks to his arsenal, and the fact that he’s not done developing both his stuff and his body.

Arizona could use a pitcher like him to jumpstart a disappointing rotation that was supposed to challenge the NL West. Hopefully should he be picked here, he develops into the ace Arizona sorely needs.

8. Philadelphia Phillies:

Photo Courtesy of Scout.com

The University of Florida’s run of talent the past two years has been nothing short of impressive, especially considering how every player they’ve signed has contributed almost immediately. With AJ Puk, Dane Dunning, Kirby Snead and Logan Shore among those who have jumped to the pros, there is a lot of pressure on some of the new kids to contribute. Thankfully, with a steady hand as the Gators ace, it’s possible that that transition might be smoother than anticipated.

I’ll admit, I’ve been a harsh critic of Alex Faedo, and whether that criticism has any merit or not has to do with his performance during the season. I’ve touched upon Faedo’s mechanics, and noted that not playing in fall ball raises questions, but for all we know it could be a minor blip. Criticisms aside, Faedo does have starter material. His fastball is effective as a low 90’s offering, though it can hit higher. His secondary pitches range from average to pro grade. He does have good control, but would be an even better pitcher should he improve his command.

The Phillies stand to make a lot of ground on the NL East with the Braves relying on older players to push them out of the basement, and the Marlins still recovering post-Jose Fernandez. If Faedo does put together a solid junior season, he could become a future ace in the Phillies’ rotation.

9. Milwaukee Brewers:

Photo Courtesy of Newsplex

The University of Virginia has developed a reputation for developing top pitching talent, only to have it falter as soon as it takes the next step. While the jury is still out on players like Connor Jones and Nathan Kirby, other players, like Nick Howard and Danny Hultzen have lead to major question marks. However, Virginia does have a good reputation as a producer of offensive talent, as evidenced by Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Reynolds, and now Matt Thaiss.

Add first baseman Pavin Smith to the list of potential Virginia hitters. Smith’s contact first approach is excellent, especially considering his power potential hasn’t had the chance to develop. He’s also a solid defender, and is versatile enough to be an outfielder as well as a first baseman. Smith profiles best as a table setter, though depending on the environment, there may be a chance for him to do some damage in the three hole.

Brewers fans won’t confuse Smith for Chris Carter or Prince Fielder, but as a contact oriented player, there is some value for him as someone who keeps the game going.

10. Los Angeles Angels:

Photo courtesy of LSUsports.net

Until a couple years ago, Jered Weaver was regarded as a solid starter who gave it his all. He was the face of the Angels for a while too, until a certain Jerseyite came along. Then 2016 happened, and Weaver became the butt of so many slow fastball jokes. If only the Angels had a solid contingency plan for when he left.

Initially, the Angels did have one in Sean Newcomb, but with him gone, the time to develop the league’s worst farm system couldn’t come sooner. Here, I give the Angels LSU ace Alex Lange. Lange both looks and throws the part of an ace with a mid 90’s offering and an athletic build. He’s got a decent three pitch mix, made better by the fact that he has been working on his changeup.

Lange would make a case to be one of the first 2017 draftees to reach the majors, especially if his changeup is fully developed. Considering how badly the Angels want to win a championship while Mike Trout is still in his prime, I could see Lange making a few September starts for them, should they still be in contention and should they draft Lange in the first place.

11. Chicago White Sox:

Photo courtesy of MLB.com

Sometimes, when a system is so good, there really is no right answer in a mock. After the White Sox sold off Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, it became clear that the White Sox were the new Astros, a team with an impressive minor league system. But while the Astros built theirs from the ground up, the White Sox acquired these prospects, most of which were major league ready.

Because the Sox farm system is so strong, there really doesn’t appear to be any positional deficiency, so I’m going to go with a BPA pick here in Brady McConnell. McConnell is considered the most likely prep shortstop to stay at his position when going pro, and it helps that his lanky frame, excellent speed and defense profile there. McConnell definitely works best in the leadoff or 2 spot in a lineup, since his power is below average.

Even though the White Sox do have Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada set as a double play combo for a while, adding McConnell to an impressively deep farm system would be excellent, especially since McConnell is likely to stay in the infield. Still, if the White Sox can find a way to move him to third, that would be even better.

12. Pittsburgh Pirates:

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

One of the biggest WTF trade moments at last year’s deadline involved the Pirates trading top catching prospect Reese McGuire, alongside Harold Ramirez and Francisco Liriano, for Drew Hutchinson. The deal didn’t make any sense before, and still doesn’t today. It leaves the question, who becomes Francisco Cervelli’s successor?

JJ Schwarz is probably the most interesting prospect in this draft in that his value is as a hitter. We know that at one point he was considered one of the best college catching prospects, but with teammate Mike Rivera taking over the position in his sophomore year and Schwarz playing the DH role, there are some questions as where he might say. The most optimistic judgement would be that he’s got the potential to stay behind the dish and would be lucky to work with the Pirates electric staff. The worst case scenario is that he ends up being just a hitter with no definite position. Still, Pittsburgh had been in this sitation before where they’ve eased a conversion out of a highly regarded prospect.

Schwarz’s potential development as a catcher didn’t work out as he lasted two weeks in the Cape Cod League before leaving due to injury. Still, a team that would want a player like him would definitely invest time in retraining him to work behind the dish.

13. Miami Marlins:

Photo courtesy of Vox Magazine

One could say that the Marlins do have a decent contingency plan in place regarding Jose Fernandez. Sure, the sum of Dan Straily, Jeff Locke, and Edinson Volquez is not going to equal the late star, but while the Marlins bide their time as Tyler Kolek and Braxton Garrett hopefully develop, they should be able to hold the fort.

Granted, death is unexpected and really does change long term outcomes, but in a college pitching rich draft like this, there is the possibility that the Marlins can find a short term homegrown solution. Enter Tanner Houck. Houck has been on scouting radar for a long time thanks in part to an outstanding freshman season, and followed it up with a decent sophomore campaign. Houck’s best weapon is his fastball, which is very lively. He also has decent control and demand despite an unorthodox delivery.

Houck does need a little seasoning and work on his secondary pitches before he can be considered pro ready, but he’s definitely not a long term college project. In a park like Miami, he definitely has the chance to thrive.

14. Kansas City Royals

Photo courtesy of SCF baseball via Twitter

College baseball is less than a week away, however that doesn’t mean that amateur baseball is in a freeze. Some states have already started playing, as well as some junior colleges. If it weren’t for these schools, I wouldn’t be doing a mock in February.

Thanks to the emergence of Brendon Little as the country’s best JUCO prospect, there was something to talk about in this month’s mock that wasn’t already touched upon. Little’s first start was impressive for the Manatees. In 6 innings in a 6–1 victory, Little struck out 9. Add on top of that a nice mid to high 90’s fastball, and an above average curve, plus a changeup that he’s been working on since the fall, and Little could make the case to be the first JUCO first rounder since Tim Anderson in 2013.

Little would be great for a Royals team that lost electric starter Yordano Ventura in a tragic accident, and have turned to Jason Hammel as a band-aid. Should he continue to pitch the way he did this past week, expect his stock to rise up even more.

15. Houston Astros:

Photo Courtesy of N2K Sports

Thanks in part to the hacking scandal involving former Cardinals staffer Chris Correa, the Astros stand to be big winners in this year’s draft with the pick bounty they received from St. Louis, second and third rounders to be precise. Considering how little draft pick forfeiture and/or trading there has been in this year’s draft, it stands to be an excellent haul.

Repopulating an already flush farm system is a fairly easy task for the Astros, they’ve done it before. Considering how many major league assets they have, the Astros could once again dip into the prep ranks and grab Hagen Danner. Danner is another two way California prepster, much like Hunter Greene, and although he’s not made a decision as to where he will play, a commital to a position in his senior year will definitely boost his value.

The Astros do have a dearth of pitching, so if I had to project him here, I would want him to be a catcher. Even though Brian McCann is the catcher now, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Danner to take over one McCann calls it a career.

16. New York Yankees:

Photo Courtesy of Ozark Sports Zone

The Yankees’ prospect bounty is either going to help them in the long term or the short term, depending on whether they decide to keep these players or trade them for a major contributor. Considering how many are top 100 prospects, either way, the Yankees are going to come out looking good.

Considering how stacked the Yankees farm system is, this pick is more of a Best Player Available option than anything else, and factoring in the scarcity of collegiate positional talent, I could see the Yankees going after Jake Burger. Burger has been regarded as one of the better hitters in college baseball, and although his defense is questionable because of his less than pretty style of play, he still makes plays. Burger’s power profiles well at a hitters park like Yankee Stadium, and will certainly allow him to be a top of the order producer.

Burger’s style of play certainly contrasts with the Yankees cleaner approach, but his scrappiness and ability to produce certainly will allow the Yankees to overlook certain things. He’d be a nice young piece for the Yankees should they fail to get Manny Machado in 2019.

17. Seattle Mariners:

Photo Courtesy of Drops of Ink

I can imagine that former 2012 Golden Spikes winner Mike Zunino, despite an okay 2016 for his standards, is on thin ice with Mariners management. Considering how much potential he had as the third overall pick in that draft, and how much he has failed to live up to the potential, this is a make or break year for him.

Because of the amount of catching talent in this year’s draft, it would make sense for the Mariners to at least look at one option, in this case, it’s Evan Skoug. Skoug is a very respected catcher, and one of the better producers in college baseball. Skoug has potential to be a middle of the order producer, and while there may be questions regaurding his ability to stay at catcher, it seems his present value would be greater if he stayed behind the plate.

Skoug has had the benefit of working with one of the best pitchers in college baseball, and if he were to be drafted by the Mariners, he’d have the opportunity to work with one of the best aces in the game.

18. Detroit Tigers:

Photo courtesy of Jordon Adell

2017 will mark the ten year anniversary the Tigers took Rick Porcello with the 27th pick in the draft. Porcello was a serviceable starter in Detroit who was hyped to be part of an outstanding Tigers staff. After being traded to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes, Porcello struggled in his initial year, but rebounded the following year to win the AL Cy Young in one of the more controversial finishes in the award’s history.

Ten years later, the Tigers could find themselves grabbing one of the top prep players again, only this time, it would be a bat. Jordon Adell has been both a highly regarded and a controversial prospect because scouts can’t seem to find a common ground on who he his as a hitter. Some are sold on his potential to be a power hitting outfielder, while others are concerned that he’s not consistent enough to be more of a threat. Still Adell does have the speed and defense to play the outfield well enough, and proper development of his bat would definitely help him be a real threat.

Adell is a curious case this year, and one would hope that we can see the 2016 in-season and Home Run Derby version of him rather than the summer showcase version of him.

19. San Francisco Giants: Jacob Heatherly, LHP, Cullman HS, Alabama

Photo Courtesy of the Cullman Times

We take another stroll down memory lane to 2007, when the Giants used the tenth pick in the draft to take Madison Bumgarner. To say that Bumgarner has been a major piece of the Giants rotation and their three championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014 is a big understatement. In fact, one could make the argument that Bumgarner is responsible for two of those three championships. The Giants haven’t had a major homegrown rotation piece since Bumgarner, though Tyler Beede, their 2014 first rounder could change that.

Considering the dearth of prep pitching in this year’s draft, the idea of the Giants taking a lefty wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. I point towards Jacob Heatherly, who stands as the second best prep lefty available. Heatherly’s mechanics make him a solid starter, he rarely has to change his delivery. He’s slightly undersized as a starter, though his command more than compensates for that. Heatherly also has four above average pitches that with some development could all become major weapons.

Heatherly would be the second straight Alabama prep lefty to be chosen following Braxton Garrett, and should he have a solid senior season, he may even have a chance to be picked higher than his state mate.

20. New York Mets:

Photo Courtesy of Perfect Game

To be honest, I’ve never really had an interest in the Little League World Series. Sure, there are some interesting stories that come out of it every year, but in my opinion, it’s not as enjoyable as the College or the major league World Series. Still, I was interested to note that this year’s draft class had two major heroes from the 2011 Ocean View Little League team that beat Tokyo Japan, and won the last United States title until Maine-Endwell in 2016.

The two heroes I’m talking about, of course, are Hagen Danner, and my projected Mets pick, Nick Pratto. Pratto, who drove in the winning run in the 2011 final, is a two way talent, like Danner, and there is debate as to whether or not he’d be a better first baseman or pitcher. In this case, I’m mocking Pratto as a pitcher, because of his projectability. I’m also a big fan of his windup, which is fairly effortless with a slight push when he throws. Pratto can get good movement on his pitches as well. Pratto also would fit the mold of pitchers that can hit, and he could be good for a couple of hits here and there.

The last time the Mets tapped into the high school ranks to grab an arm in round 1 was 2011, when they took Michael Fulmer out of Deer Creek High School. Considering how much of a success story Fulmer was this past year, I could see the Mets brass considering looking there, especially considering how much prep pitching there is in this draft.

21. Baltimore Orioles

Photo Courtesy of UHCougars.com

At the time this mock draft started and my analysis began, the college baseball and high school baseball seasons had started. So apologies if certain reports talk more about potential and later ones talk more about what certain players have accomplished. When the Spring Training mock comes out next month, there should be a more consistent approach to this.

With that disclaimer aside, let’s take a look at Seth Romero in his 2017 debut. In an absolute gem of a game against Wake Forest, Romero struck out 12 batters in 6 innings, allowing only 1 run on five hits. Romero has been a bit of a rough player to project, mainly because I’m not a fan of his mechanics, but considering how well he did in his opening start, it’s safe to say that he’ll be an interesting player to watch this year.

Baltimore may not have the best track record for developing pitchers, but something tells me that Romero might be the guy to change that perception. He has the ability to take control of a game, and would definitely be a solid mid rotation piece for the Orioles.

22. Toronto Blue Jays:

Photo courtesy of YouTube

Before the days of shortstops that could hit for power, the established norm was that the position was for a player that had very little power and was more established as a defensive asset. Players like Ozzie Smith were more valued, but as the 90’s exploded with offense taking center stage, shortstops were redefined as offensive players who could field. It’s amazing that prep shortstops that are drafted always seem to grow out of the position.

Nick Allen is a throwback to that era, the scrappy, no power, can field anything type player. He’s got speed, which allows him to be a top of the order threat in a lineup, and his size could play to his advantage. Allen’s swing is very smooth and is perfectly utilized for contact hitting. Allen is also one of those rare domestic players that has a chance to stay at shortstop, and is one of the hardest workers on the field considering how much people have underestimated him in the past.

Allen strikes me as the type of player that the Blue Jays could use. Considering we don’t know how healthy Troy Tulowitzki can be and the uncertainty regarding whether or not Josh Donaldson will stay, should the Jays initiate the rebuild sequence, Allen would be a nice long term piece in a potentially stacked infield consisting of Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.

23. Los Angeles Dodgers:

Photo Courtesy of Baseball America

I’d make the argument that the Dodgers had one of the best offseason, mainly due in part to the fact that they were able to resign three key pieces of their 2016 team, chief among them is Justin Turner. Turner’s contract however is for five years, and considering he’ll be 37 when that deal expires, it might be a good idea to look at a contingency plan.

Mark Vientos has been compared to Manny Machado, and considering the Dodgers do like high level talent, getting Machado lite would be a lot less prohibitively expensive. Vientos is a good hitter with plenty of projection remaining. He does play shortstop in high school, however, there is a universal consensus that he’s a better pro third baseman. Vientos would be a nice middle of the order presence in any lineup.

The Dodgers have done a great job in assembling a hybrid build/buy roster, and having a guy like Vientos would definitely put them over the top in the future.

24. Boston Red Sox:

Photo courtesy of College Baseball Central

The Big West Conference is to college baseball what the Mid American Conference is to college football. Every so often they churn out a good team that people suddenly have an urge to root for to disrupt the establishment. While that contender usually is Cal State Fullerton, last year, we saw Cal Santa Barbara make it to the College World Series.

Of course, the Big West has had their fair share of top talents as well, and this year is no exception. Despite an injury early in the year, Keston Hiura still remains one of my favorite sleeper picks. Maybe it’s because he’s a college second baseman, and second basemen coming into the first round are a rarity, but Hiura’s value is as a contact hitter. Despite a relatively quiet opening series against the University of Minnesota and concerns that he’s not 100%, I’m still convinced that Hiura’s bat will help him keep, or even raise his stock this year.

With Dustin Pedroia now the elder statesman in the Red Sox organization, I could see the Sox looking at a way to utilize his offense while finding a nice contingency plan for him, now that uber second base prospect Yoan Moncada is in Chicago.

25. Washington Nationals:

Photo courtesy of YouTube

It’s rare that a pitcher goes into the draft with the explicit intention that they become a pro reliever, but in two of the past three drafts, we have seen a couple interesting cases: Nick Burdi, who stands to be the Twins future closer, his brother Zack, who just yesterday indicated that he plans to be a professional closer, and Tom Hackimer, another Twins reliever.

Considering the Nationals have had so much trouble finding a closer this offseason and the fact that they’re relying on the ageless wonder Joe Nathan, among other pitchers to close out games, drafting a quick rising reliever like Colton Hock would make some sense. Hock earned Stanford’s only win against Cal State Fullerton in the opening series and pitched three innings in a come from behind game. He seems to be most effective in short stints, and although he does need to clean a few things up, he has the body to be a dominating pitcher.

Considering how much the Nationals played catch up this offseason, and how much they stand to lose if they don’t have a top flight pitcher ready at the back of the bullpen, it would make some sense to see how much Hock would offer if given a quick opportunity.

26. Texas Rangers:

Photo courtesy of thecreole.com

Rangers fans may remember the name David Clyde, the Rangers most recent number one overall pick. Clyde was a highly regarded lefthanded prep pitcher who was aggressively promoted to the major leagues, and by aggressively, I mean he jumped straight to the majors. He struggled afterwards with inconsistency and injuries, and has been cited as one of the worst examples of a young pitcher being mishandled by an organization.

Of course, that was the 1970’s when Tommy John Surgery was a year away, and the solution was always to rub some dirt on it. The Rangers nowadays are a lot more careful with their pitchers, and I can imagine them taking more caution with a prized prepster like Blayne Enlow. Enlow, unlike Clyde, is a righty, and a very intriguing one at that. The St. Amant High Schooler has been regarded as one of the better curveball pitchers in the draft, and can dial his fastball up to the mid 90’s. As of now, he looks to be a bullpen arm, but if he can show less fatigue in later innings, a mid rotation spot wouldn’t be out of the question.

This year’s draft is the perfect opportunity for the Rangers to stock assets, considering they have two picks in the top 30. Enlow, who is ranked as the second best righty prep pitcher may not last this long, but if he falls this far, expect the Rangers to at least look into him.

27. Chicago Cubs:

Photo Courtesy of Varsity Now

2017 happens to mark the ten year anniversary of the infamous phantom University of North Carolina rotation. To explain, UNC coach Mike Fox had assembled an enviable recruiting class which included prepsters Madison Bumgarner, Rick Porcello and Matt Harvey. As we all know, Bumgarner and Porcello both went pro out of high school, leaving Fox with only Harvey. It wasn’t a terrible trade off, but one could imagine how dangerous the Tar Heels could have been had they kept the set.

Though Mackenzie Gore isn’t committed to UNC, he’s still part of a long line of Tar Heel State prep pitchers that stand to make a huge impact. Gore has three average to above average pitches, including a changeup which scouts rate as better than his curveball. Gore’s mechanics are praiseworthy, and will only look better as he bulks up. He’s a fighter and has the potential to be a huge asset in a rotation once he reaches his max potential.

It’s been a while since the Cubs drafted a prep pitcher in the first round, but considering how strong this year’s class of lefties is, Gore could make a hard case to join the defending champs.

COMPENSATORY PICKS

Toronto Blue Jays:

Photo Courtesy of Stanford Daily

Last year’s draft saw the Blue Jays grab TJ Zeuch, a big pitcher from the University of Pittsburgh despite the fact that Zeuch missed the first month of the season due to injury.

This year, they could scoop up Tristan Beck, expected to be out until early April, but still considered a solid starter. Beck’s finesse pitcher mentality would certainly be a departure from the flamethrowing mindset that many teams enjoy, however given Stanford’s track record with pitchers, he might be a good player to have.

29. Texas Rangers:

Photo courtesy of Lipscomb University

What do Kyle Lewis, Dillon Tate, Sean Newcomb, and Hunter Dozier have in common? They all came from small schools and ended up being first round picks.

This year, Michael Gigliotti of Lipscomb gets the spotlight, and while he didn’t have a great opening series with the Bison, his talent and mlb comparison to Jacoby Ellsbury make him a sleeper player to watch. Texas especially could use him as their future centerfielder.

30. Chicago Cubs:

Photo Courtesy of The Slate

You’d have to go back to 2011 to find the last time a Gamecock was drafted in the first round, a certain Red Sox centerfielder named Jackie Bradley. This year however, there could be two, both pitchers.

My pick for the most likely first rounder would be Clarke Schmidt. Schmidt had a sparkling debut game throwing 6 innings of one run, three hit ball. He’s got a solid toolbox of pitches that would be better if he bulks up. He’s crafty, but needs to work on getting more out of his pitches late in game. Still, his floor is a solid back end starter, and he’d make a solid piece for the Cubs.

CB LOTTERY PICKS:

31. Tampa Bay Rays:

Photo Courtesy of The Tablet

Quentin Holmes could join fellow state mate Garrett Whitley in a potentially stacked future Rays outfield. He’s the fastest player in this years class, and if a team can get him to hit, he’d be a dangerous leadoff man.

32. Cincinnati Reds:

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Could the Reds join the Cardinals and the Astros in finding their future shortstop in Puerto Rico? The toolsy Ricardo De La Torre could make a solid case to be chosen.

33. Oakland Athletics:

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I could see the A’s under new ownership taking bigger gambles on high upside talent. Having Rancho Bernardo’s latest talent Calvin Mitchell would be a great start for them.

34. Milwaukee Brewers:

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In spite of a slow opening series, I’m a huge fan of Deon Stafford, mainly because of his power and the fact that he’s a catcher. He’d be a nice addition to a Brewers team in need of a more consistent power hitter.

35. Minnesota Twins:

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This is very top heavy catcher class, and the Twins could take advantage of it by grabbing the top defensive catcher in the nation, Mike Rivera. He’d be a great complement to a fantastic future Twins rotation headed by Hunter Greene.

36. Miami Marlins:

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The Marlins haven’t had a consistently productive first baseman in over ten years. Having a guy like Ryan Noda, who’s power is impressive and his defense works well, would be great for the Marlins and their spacious park.